NAIROBI (September 6, 2023) –Today, at the 2023 African Climate Action Summit, the Health Finance Coalition hosted an “Action Hub” event entitled, “Voices from the Climate-Health Frontlines: Highlighting Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention,” as part of the government of Kenya’s Africa Climate Week 2023, one of four regional climate weeks held to build momentum ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference COP 28 in Dubai. The event, co-hosted with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, highlighted health challenges posed by climate change by engaging the climate change and global health communities in a conversation with civil society organizations on the role of seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) in climate-proofing malaria eradication efforts.
Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention
With nearly half of the world’s population at risk of malaria, seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) was recommended in 2012 by the World Health Organization as a safe and cost-effective tool for preventing malaria infection and its consequences, and involving the use of anti-malarial medicines. Proven to prevent 75% of clinical malaria episodes in children, and recognized as a “safe and cost-effective strategy for reducing the disease burden and saving lives,” WHO updated its malaria chemoprevention recommendations in June 2022, supporting broader use of the tool, including in areas with seasonal transmission as well as to pregnant women and children older than 6 years of age living in locations at high risk of severe malaria.
COP28 & Climate-proofing Malaria Eradication Efforts
This Fall, the first-ever Health Day at COP28 on December 3 will offer a unique opportunity to highlight the adverse impact that global climate change is having on human health and livelihoods, complicating efforts to eliminate malaria around the world. Malaria, one of the most temperature and weather-sensitive diseases, is at risk of increasing due to climate change as rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events change the range and behavior of the mosquitoes that carry malaria and other diseases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that 51-62 million people will be at risk of malaria in eastern and southern Africa by the 2030s because of global warming.
SMC and Climate Health Financing
As malaria-carrying mosquitoes move to new habitats due to changing weather patterns, seasonal malaria chemoprevention offers a cost-effective and climate adaptive strategy for protecting vulnerable populations from malaria outbreaks prompted by extreme weather events caused by climate change. Modeling estimates suggest that, at full-scale use, the use of SMC could avert several million cases of malaria, preventing several tens of thousands of childhood deaths each year, according to a recent Lancet report, prompting calls for an increase in targeted malaria chemoprevention programs. However, domestic funding from countries that implement SMC remains low, at some 6-7% of total committed funds for the years 2019 and 2020 (Lancet, pg. 143).
“Uganda is already reeling from the impacts of climate change, from changes in our rainfall patterns to more frequent extreme weather events such as floods and droughts – which have tragically made vector-borne diseases such as malaria more common in our country, putting more of our most vulnerable children further at risk. It’s bad enough when hospitals and resources are few and far in between, when food is scarce, and homes are destroyed. But now climate change may also mean a deadly disease like malaria spreads faster and longer in your community,” said panelist Krstal Birungi, Field Entomology Coordinator for Target Malaria. “As we endure these climate surges, seasonal malaria chemoprevention plays a critical role in our ability to adapt and continue our fight against this deadly disease. We are encouraged by the WHO’s broadened support for SMC as we now have to ability to expand this exciting, climate-adaptive malaria intervention to our youngest children and expectant mothers. We must expand the use of these vital interventions and invest in protecting our most vulnerable populations from the devastating impacts of climate change on our collective health.”
“In Cameroon, malaria is already our most widespread endemic disease, with our entire country exposed to the disease on a regular basis. But with climate change, unpredictable weather patterns and seasonal shifts in infection transmission have created a perfect storm, compounding the risks and driving massive increases in malaria infection and mortality,” said panelist Olivia Ngou, member of the Global Civil Society for Malaria Elimination Secretariat. “Thankfully, seasonal malaria chemoprevention is a flexible and climate adaptive solution, designed to protect children as long as the rainy seasons last. It is time we expand and fully fund this this lifesaving intervention to our most vulnerable community members.”
In November 2021, the Health Finance Coalition announced a new partnership agreement with the Global Fund to identify and optimize the global health impact of a pipeline of investment opportunities across lab systems, supply chains and the delivery of care. In the context of this cooperation framework, the Health Finance Coalition and Clinton Health Access Initiative are working with the Global Fund to mobilize funding for a SMC top-up fund, aimed at attracting new donors and high-net-worth individuals for expanding SMS as a climate-resilient global health intervention supporting community adaptation as weather patterns and malaria transmission seasonality change.
About the Health Finance Coalition:
The Health Finance Coalition (HFC) was launched by a group of leading philanthropies, investors, donors, technical partners convened by WHO Ambassador for Global Strategy and Health Financing Ray Chambers and hosted by Malaria No More. The HFC seeks to attract an unprecedented level of private-sector investment to impact millions of lives and accelerate progress to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, a UN Sustainable Development Goal 3. The coalition uses public and philanthropic funding to encourage private-sector capital investment in transformative healthcare impact in Sub-Saharan Africa.
About the Global Fund:
The Global Fund is a worldwide movement to defeat HIV, TB and malaria and ensure a healthier, safer, more equitable future for all. We raise and invest US$4 billion a year to fight the deadliest infectious diseases, challenge the injustice which fuels them and strengthen health systems in more than 100 of the hardest hit countries. We unite world leaders, communities, civil society, health workers and the private sector to find solutions that have the most impact, and we take them to scale worldwide. Since 2002, the Global Fund has saved 44 million lives.
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About Malaria No More
Malaria No More envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. Fifteen years into our mission, our work has contributed to historic progress toward this goal. Now, we’re mobilizing the political commitment, funding, and innovation required to achieve what would be one of the greatest humanitarian accomplishments – ending malaria within our generation. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org.